Hints, Tips & News From The World Of Music Software
More hints, tips and update news from the world of music software.
This month we'll carry on with our basic tuition course on the Arrange mode, but first a quick point: the simple action of scrolling pattern numbers and other values in the Arrange window issues commands to the sequencer to organise patterns in a certain way; there is nothing else you have to do, ie. no pattern copying or moving etc, as it is all done 'remotely' from the Arrange window.
Last month, we started using two Arrange chains in our song arrangement, using the [Insert] key. This allows us to record or replay up to 32 simultaneous tracks. These chains are completely independent when it comes to moving their patterns. To give an example of this, you may have a song already arranged in the Arrange window, using chains A, B and C perhaps, with all three patterns starting at bar 1. You now wish to insert a two-bar count-in at the beginning, prior to recording the whole thing onto tape:
(1) Place the Arrange cursor onto the topmost entry (by pressing the Stop command twice with the Arrange mode switched on); the top entry is not necessarily in chain A, but that is not important.
(2) Press [Insert] to 'clone' that pattern onto the next chain up.
(3) Using the left mouse button, scroll that new pattern number to a pattern that contains no data and click it back across to chain A by clicking the left mouse button in the corresponding space in chain A (this makes the count-in pattern number jump sideways from the other chain to A). Name the pattern (eg. 'Count'). You now have an empty pattern starting at bar 1 of the song, in chain A. In this example, you also have music patterns starting at the same bar in chains B and C as well as chain A. So, you have a nonsensical situation where your count-in pattern is starting at the same time as the music patterns. You are made aware of this by your count-in pattern's Length display (bottom lefthand corner) which reads 'ZERO!?'. The task now is to move the music part back by two bars, so that the count-in starts at bar 1 and the other patterns start at bar 3.
(4) Go to the count-in pattern's Length display and scroll it from 'ZERO!?' to '2 0 0 0' by clicking the left mouse button on the 'Z' of 'ZERO!?' (ie. where you would expect to find the bar number position). This will scroll all the patterns in chain A back by two bars.
(5) Click the count-in pattern number across to chain B and repeat the operation in stage (4). This will scroll all the patterns in chain B back by two bars. Repeat the operation in chain C. You now have an inserted blank count-in pattern, with the music starting two bars later. It does not matter in which chain you leave the count-in. All you have to do now is record your count-in on a track in that blank pattern, or use your mouse to insert one into your matrix editor/notation in the Edit page. Voila!
Note that a sequencer is not allowed, under the rules of MIDI, to issue a Start command at any other position than '1 1 1 1'. This means that any count-in on a MIDI sequencer has to start at '1 1 1 1'. In MIDI terms a song is not 120 bars long plus two bars' count-in, but 122 bars long including two bars' count-in. Your count-in cannot start before bar 1 if you want to be able to use MIDI Start commands, from an external synchroniser or even the sequencer's own Start command. (However, Creator's Pause/Continue command allows you to start wherever you like, but you are advised to stick to the MIDI rules for simplicity.) More on the Arrange mode next month.
There is an easy way to enter triplets of whatever denomination into a Notator stave. Here's an example using triplet quavers:
(1) In either partbox, select the triplet version of the quaver.
(2) Enter the first quaver onto the stave with either mouse button: the Control Line shows the position '1 1 1 1'.
(3) Enter the second one without releasing the mouse button. Position the second quaver over the first one, then move it to the right just enough for the Control Line to show the next time position ('1 1 2 17'), then release the button.
(4) Enter the third one without releasing the mouse button. Position the third quaver over the second one, then move it to the right just enough for the Control Line to show the next time position ('1 1 3 33'), then release the button. That's all there is to it!
There are as many uses for C-Lab's Groove Quantisation feature as there are stars in the sky. It represents one of the most innovative pieces of software engineering in the C-Lab Creator and Notator Gone are the days when computers equal cold, expressionless playing. Unlike some other programs, the internal dock resolution of Creator and Notator are high enough to capture subtle playing (this resolution is being doubled yet again in the next version, but never mind that now!).
There is nothing mysterious about basic quantisation: it is nothing more than a collection of templates that can be imposed on what you play to tidy up its timing. These templates are invisible to the user, and cannot thus be edited by the user, since they are stored in the recesses of the program and are recalled in Creator and Notator by scrolling to one of the 10 desired 'Quantise' values in the main page Track Parameter window.
The 17 values you get when you click the right mouse button on the 'Groove' parameter simply present more of these automatic quantisation templates for your use. They represent percentage swings away from strict metronomical time, and more.
It's when you start using the quantisation facilities available with the left mouse button, called 'User-Defined Groove Quantisation', that you leave the realms of standard quantisation (as described above) and reach a situation where you can define your own Groove templates. More on this next month, with a spiffing example on how to Groove Quantise film music!
We don't know of any 'bugs' in the current version of Trackman but if a problem should occur we will fix it. As a result of our discussions with customers, a few small refinements will be made to the current version. Existing owners of the Trackman system will automatically receive this update of Version 1 together with any required documentation changes. There is no charge for this service.
It used to take GEM two or three seconds to redraw the screen when closing a dialogue box. The big ones were the slowest. This is now done instantly. You can switch this on or off from Trackman's 'Goodies' menu. The fast redraw uses about 4000 notes worth of memory, so on the Atari 520ST it defaults to off. You can still use it on a 520ST, but switch it off if you need to fit more notes in.
This allows Trackman to do a smarter version of the sort of destructive recording that tape does. While you are punched in, any previous notes are erased. Just tap the footswitch to record over the old stuff and again to punch out. This also opens up another possibility when looping. Select a fresh track and synth voice and start recording; stay punched in and play along while the pattern loops. When you play something you like, punch out or hit Stop. The last loop will have captured the good bit. This works perfectly even if you punch out in the middle of a loop, allowing you to decide if you like what you did after you played it.
It is now possible to record System Exclusive data into a sequence. The existing MIDI bulk transfer facility is better for storing large amounts of data, like entire banks of synth patches, but you may wish to record the data for a single patch into a sequence. An additional item on the 'MIDI' menu switches the System Exclusive filter on or off. This filter is also used for erase during record. Set it to 'off' to protect the data from being erased.
The track number is now dimmed for any track that is empty.
To use a drum machine as an expander with Trackman, it is necessary to prevent the drum machine responding to MIDI clocks, and instead respond to MIDI notes to trigger individual drum voices. If your drum machine has no way of ignoring MIDI clocks you can get around this by disabling the clock data using the 'MIDI' menu or by connecting the drum machine to Trackman's auxiliary MIDI Out. Consult the manual for your drum machine to find out how to enable MIDI drums and set the receive channel. You may need to set Omni mode off as well. Some drum machines require System Exclusive enabled in order to respond to MIDI note, so check this also.
You need not have a huge rack of synths to make use of the auxiliary MIDI Out, there are several advantages to using it in any MIDI system.
If you have a synth which is always in Omni mode (there are quite a few of these about), you could connect the instrument to the auxiliary Out instead of having to use a MIDI channeliser box.
MIDI Start, Stop and Clock data are only sent on the main MIDI Out, so it may be easier to get MIDI drums working by using the auxiliary Out instead of sorting out the drum machine. This method is not dependent on the drum machine to remember how it was set up.
Some samplers (like the Prophet 2002) have a multitimbral Mono mode which may take all 16 channels. This is an ideal candidate for the auxiliary MIDI port, allowing the full pitch range for each voice rather than mapping them all in five octaves on just one channel.
It is best to avoid long MIDI Thru 'daisy chains' as these can cause data errors, so use Trackman's auxiliary MIDI Out to cut down the number of Thru connections in your system. Overall timing of MIDI data is also improved by sharing the data between two MIDI ports instead of sending it all down just one.
The CompEx transform in Sequencer Plus MkIII can be used to compress or expand a piece of music so that it will fit in a given time slot - an important feature if you are composing jingles or film music. The transform changes the amount of time between notes without changing the overall tempo or affecting the bar lines. The command asks you for a ratio of new time to old time, which can be any whole number from 1 to 4000. Using close ratios (2000:2001) can produce interesting flanging effects.
Passport have recently announced a new program called Escort, which will allow Sequencer Plus files to be converted to printed music using Passport's Score Desktop Music Publishing program. Previously the MIDI support for Score was restricted to reading pitch information via MIDI in step time. This new program means that Sequencer Plus files can now be converted to printed music by three programs: Dr.T's Copyist, Jim Miller's Personal Composer and Passport's Score.
Voyetra software users will be supported both in the States via PAN, and in Europe via The Music Network. In addition, new purchasers of Voyetra's Sequencer Plus will be eligible for a sign up fee waiver for The Music Network. Contact Computer Music Systems for further details.
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